Monday, May 16, 2016

Room: Creepy and Scary Yet Also Brilliantly Told

Movie Review: Room (2015)

Room is both creepy and scary, yet it's also intelligently told not as a horror tale nor as a thriller. It delves deeply into the experiences of the victims of a pedophile kidnapped as a teen and the son who is birthed as a result of her imprisonment as a teen.

The film begins simply enough showing the mother, Ma , and her son, Jack, living a normal seeming life in a small apartment. There's a bed and a bath and a kitchen. As the story expands, so does your sense of their isolation. The only window in the room is a skylight. They exercise there, play there, do chores there. But never do Ma and Jack ever leave the room. Food is provided. And while Jack wakes up in Ma's bed, you find that when Jack goes to bed he sleeps in the bottom of the wardrobe. When the pedophile Old Nick shows up, there's an electronic series of tones, and Ma puts Jack to bed. Old Nick then gets into bed with Ma.

Jack's toys are simple. They are the occasional books, some of which are beyond his reading age. Others are toys he has made out of everyday objects, like egg shells and toilet paper rolls. Ma tells Jack stories, and they imagine a world beyond that of their small room. But you then realize, Jack has never seen anything or anyone outside the walls of what turns out to be a backyard shed.

Never sensationalized, Room is adeptly told with realism. Theirs is a world of isolation and terror. Old Nick comes for his predatory sex, although you never really see that - it is implied. Then one night Jack is awake and emerges from the wardrobe to find Old Nick in bed with Ma. He quietly walks over to the bed to investigate and Old Nick wakes up. Curious about Jack, he talks to him and Ma wakes up and attacks Old Nick. "Don't ever touch Jack!" Old Nick rolls over on her and nearly chokes her, demonstrating his dominance. He angrily leaves and turns off the power to the room. It's winter and the room gets cold. Very cold. It's then that Ma comes up with her plan to help Jack escape.

Jack is courageous as he pulls off Ma's escape plan. Never having seen anything outside the room, Jack is exposed to a seemingly limitless world, overwhelming to his senses. But Jack is strong. And Jack brings help for Ma. But their struggle is only half over. For while Ma coped with her imprisonment and bringing up Jack in their isolation, now freed she must cope with their freedom and the implications of their confinement and the violence and shame of their life with a pedophile. It's a long, enduring journey. And in the end, it is Jack's strength that rescues Ma.

With extreme sensitivity, Room brilliantly tells the story of their journey. While I don't recommend this film for every audience, it is a story well told for many. I can now see why it was nominated for and won so many top awards. It will help you understand what families go through when a child is kidnapped and is years later rescued.

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